Burning Throat from Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. One of the most uncomfortable symptoms of acid reflux is a burning sensation in the throat. This occurs when the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and irritates the lining, causing a burning sensation. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for acid reflux burning throat.
Causes of Acid Reflux Burning Throat
The primary cause of acid reflux burning throat is the malfunctioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a ring of muscle that acts as a barrier between the esophagus and the stomach. It opens to allow food and liquid to enter the stomach and then closes to prevent the stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. When the LES weakens or relaxes abnormally, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux and a burning sensation in the throat.
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing acid reflux, including obesity, smoking, pregnancy, and certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers. Eating a large meal or lying down immediately after eating can also trigger acid reflux symptoms, including burning throat.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux Burning Throat
The most common symptom of acid reflux burning throat is a burning sensation in the throat or chest. This may be accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation of food or liquid. Some people may also experience a hoarse voice, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
In severe cases, acid reflux can lead to complications such as esophageal ulcers, bleeding, and scarring. If left untreated, chronic acid reflux can increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Treatment for Acid Reflux Burning Throat
Treatment for acid reflux burning throat depends on the severity and frequency of the symptoms. Lifestyle modifications are often the first line of treatment, including:
- Avoiding trigger foods and drinks, such as spicy or acidic foods, caffeine, and alcohol
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Avoiding lying down immediately after eating
- Elevating the head of the bed to reduce the likelihood of stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus
In addition to lifestyle modifications, over-the-counter antacids such as Tums, Maalox, and Mylanta can provide temporary relief from acid reflux symptoms. These medications neutralize the stomach acid and provide a protective coating for the esophagus.
For more severe cases of acid reflux, prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers may be prescribed. PPIs such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid reduce the production of stomach acid, while H2 blockers such as Zantac and Pepcid block the action of histamine, which stimulates the production of stomach acid.
In rare cases where lifestyle modifications and medications are ineffective, surgery may be recommended to strengthen the LES and prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
Prevention of Acid Reflux Burning Throat
Preventing acid reflux burning throat involves making some lifestyle changes and avoiding trigger foods and drinks. Here are some tips to help prevent acid reflux:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day instead of large meals
- Avoid trigger foods and drinks, such as spicy or acidic foods, caffeine, and alcohol
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating
- Elevate the head of the bed by 6 to 8 inches to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Manage stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga.